Top Stories: North Korea Throws Out South Koreans; Cliven Bundy Arrested

Good morning, here are our early stories:

— North Korea Expels South Koreans From Koint Park, Cutting 2 Hotline Ties.

— FBI Arrests Cliven Bundy As Pressure Mounts On 4 Remaining Wildlife Refuge Occupiers.

— Love Giant Insects? Meet The Tree Lobster, Back From The Brink.

And here are more early stories:

55 Quake Deaths In Taiwan, Mostly From 1 Apartment Building. (ABC Online)

Russia Claims U.S. Planes Bombed Aleppo. (Reuters)

Report: North Korean Military Chief Executed. (Yonhap)

Scores Injured In Egyptian Train Crash. (Jerusalem Post)

Low Snow May Force Changes In Iditarod Ceremonial Start. (AP)

Coast Guard Will Examine Cruise Ship That Sailed Into Storm. (NJ.com)

Indian Soldier Rescued After 6 Days In Avalanche Dies. (Wall Street Journal)

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Girl Scout Cookie Flavors Vary By Region

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Bite into a Thin Mints and it may taste different than the box your friend got. The Los Angles Times reports two bakers make Girl Scout cookies: one Thin Mints is smooth; the other crunchier.

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Taking A Time-Out From Time — It's A Family Thing

The Lost Time Accidents

Waldy Tolliver wakes to find himself “excused from time” (excused, as if time were PE class or jury duty). It’s 8:47 – it stays 8:47. “Time moves freely around me,” he writes from the cramped apartment of his eccentric, dead twin aunts, “gurgling like a whirlpool, fluxing like a quantum field, spinning like a galaxy around its focal hub – at the hub, however, everything is quiet.”

There, trapped in time and in a Manhattan brownstone filled with decades of debris, Waldy takes up a ream of paper laid out on the table and begins to write the history of his family, himself, and the obsession that runs from generation to generation of Tollivers like sickness: the belief that “time and space themselves are in transit, subject to a motion both pliable and absolute, and that man can influence said motion by an act of focused, virtuosic will.” In other words: time travel.

From this snug Central Park singularity, he records his quest to find and kill his great uncle – his namesake and the “Black Timekeeper of Czas” — who, Waldy believes, used time travel to escape the Russian troops razing the concentration camp where he had been performing experiments on prisoners.

Waldy addresses this chronicle to his lover, Mrs. Haven, whose husband is a follower of Synchronology, a cult derived from the sci-fi novels of Waldy’s father, Orson, a gentler L. Ron Hubbard figure. Waldy’s voice is garrulous and hypereducated, manic and mournful by turns. He will write, he says, not a dry family history but “one of those checkout counter whodunits…a mystery and a scifi potboiler combined,” in an early hint of the sprightly play with the limits of different genres that is one of the book’s pleasures.

John Wray’s novel put me in mind of an absurd meringue of a palace in Brighton, England called the Royal Pavilion. It is a dreamy orientalist paradise, with rooms and rooms of demented and delirious design, minarets, domes, chandeliers the size of cars supported by tiger-sized sculptures of dragons. By rights, it should be too much. Too gaudy. But it’s perfect in its own way. There is beauty in maximalism if the details are done right. The Lost Time Accidents, in its excess, its beauty, and its strangeness, remind me of nothing so much as the Royal Pavilion, or maybe of an invention of my little brother’s called “poogle cake,” which was made by combining every ingredient in the refrigerator — savory, sweet, expired, all — and baking it for 20 minutes. The difference, of course, is that the Lost Time Accidents is a wonderful, delirious, layered confection, whereas poogle cake tasted like ketchup and eggshells.

It is a conga line of a novel, a full brass band of a novel, an epic: not only because of its scale – the Tolliver family curse spans generations and continents — but also because it samples wildly from other genres, and contains smaller universes within itself, studded like chocolate chips within the larger story.

One section is written as a Joan Didion essay, in perfect Didion-speak, others are excerpts of Orson’s pulpy sci-fi novels (“This principatrix, it is told, was the rarest of beauties: skin the color of subpolar frost, hair luminous as ore from a core-stratum vein”), one is a perfect parody of bloated book reviews (Orson’s novel “demands to be interpreted as a ragged, desperate yawp of celebration…America could do worse than lend an ear.”)

The Lost Time Accidents is a feast, but not a glut – in part because its author leaves so much to the reader’s deduction, both in terms of the book’s central mystery and in the dense web of allusion and in-joke that decorates each page. There are references to sci-fi writers across the canon, to Shakespeare, to William Blake and St. Augustine and the Bible. You may notice that Czas, the imaginary concentration camp where Waldemar performed horrors, is the Polish word for time, or that a Greek epigraph of one of Orson’s books, translated as “Time makes fools of us all,” is nonsense Greek letters and is in fact a quotation from sci-fi writer E.T. Bell, but you may not, and he doesn’t beat you over the head with it. These small gifts and misdirections abound, lending a satisfying unknowability to the story, a sense of not having quite cracked it.

For all the manic maximalism, at a certain point Wray raises the curtain and allows us to see his narrator as a man, alone in the apartment of his dead aunts, convinced he is being held prisoner, victim of a hurricane of family delusions. The book may involve “the Gestapo, and the war, and the speed of light, and a card game no one plays anymore,” but it is really interested in simple emotional truths rather than complex scientific ones. You begin to wonder whether the family conviction that time is malleable is anything more than a coping mechanism for loss. If the past, as Waldy’s grandfather puts it, is merely an island you have left behind, then everyone you have loved and lost is still alive.

Annalisa Quinn is a freelance journalist and critic covering books and culture.

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North Korea Expels South Koreans From Joint Park, Cuts 2 Hotline Ties

Vehicles that left the Kaesong joint industrial complex in North Korea arrive in Paju, South Korea, Thursday.

Vehicles that left the Kaesong joint industrial complex in North Korea arrive in Paju, South Korea, Thursday. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Further unraveling a project that’s been a sign of cooperation, North Korea is ordering all South Koreans from a jointly run industrial complex, after South Korea announced it would suspend work there in retaliation for Pyongyang’s recent missile launch and nuclear test.

North Korea is also freezing all assets related to the Kaesong Industrial Complex and cutting two communications hotlines between the neighboring countries.

From Seoul, reporter Haeryun Kang tells our Newscast unit:

Kaesong is inside North Korea, just six miles north of the border. The industrial park is a joint project between the two Koreas. As of 2015, there were around 55,000 North Koreans working at over 100 South Korean companies. Seoul estimates that more than half a billion dollars flowed into the North since the park opened in 2004.”

On Thursday, North Korea gave the 3,000 South Koreans who work at the facility less than a day’s notice to leave, setting a deadline of 5:30 p.m. local time, The Korea Herald reports. The order demanded that they take only personal items with them when they leave.

As Yonhap News reports, the industrial complex has been a pawn in the two countries’ relations before:

“In April 2013, the North shut down the complex for about four months, citing what it called heightened tensions sparked by a military drill between Seoul and Washington. In February of that year, the North conducted its third nuclear test.

“The two Koreas agreed not to shut it down again “under any circumstances” when they decided to reopen it.”

For the businesses involved, that closure in 2013 resulted in more than $580 million in losses — a figure that could be eclipsed by the current shutdown, reports the Chosun Ilbo.

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Democratic Debate: 4 Things To Watch Tonight

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debate Thursday night.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debate Thursday night. Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images

(Note: Tonight’s debate, moderated by PBS NewsHour anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, will be simulcast on CNN and NPR and stream live on NPR.org. NPR’s Tamara Keith will be part of the debate broadcast, providing analysis of the debate during and after the event.)

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton meet Thursday night on a debate stage in Milwaukee. It will be their first face-to-face matchup since Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary where Sanders beat Clinton by more than 20 points.

Sanders raised more than $5 million in just 18 hours after polls closed (average contribution, according to his campaign: $34), giving his campaign a rocket boost of money to match the energy of his supporters. Clinton is hoping to slow his momentum and her campaign is working to shore up support among African -American and Latino voters in Nevada, South Carolina and beyond. So, let’s just say the stakes are high in tonight’s debate, especially for Clinton. Here are four things to watch for tonight:

1. Will they attack each other?

Clinton and her supporters maintain Sanders has gotten a pass from reporters and Republicans (who have attacked her relentlessly while gleefully playing up Sanders’ triumphs). Clinton’s campaign is already starting to draw sharper contrasts with the Vermont senator. But she’s under pressure to find a way to slow Sanders down and the first chance she’ll get is tonight’s debate.

In past debates, Sanders has avoided attacking Clinton directly on her “damned” emails and her high-dollar speaking fees, while effectively tying her to Wall Street and corporate interests. This line of attack (or whatever you want to call it) has hurt Clinton.

In exit polls on Tuesday, 91 percent of Democrats said having a candidate who is “honest and trustworthy” was a top priority voted for Sanders. Many voters NPR interviewed said money in politics and Wall Street ties are what tipped them away from Clinton and toward Sanders. Will he keep it up or add new, more direct lines of attack?

2. Will they modify their messaging to appeal to African-American, Latino and young voters?

The first two states to vote were overwhelmingly white. That dynamic shifts significantly in Nevada, South Carolina and for Super Tuesday — all states where there are more African-American and Latino voters. Watch for the candidates to shift the suite of issues they emphasize to speak more directly to those voters. Expect to hear more about the Flint water crisis, criminal justice reform, voting rights and immigration reform.

Meanwhile, Clinton recognized in her concession speech Tuesday night that she needs to improve how she communicates with young voters, who overwhelmingly support Sanders. This will be the first chance for viewers to see how she is retooling her message following the vote in New Hampshire.

3. How far left will the Democratic Party go in this primary?

When Clinton started her campaign, her message was more general election than primary. Now she is running in a tough primary against socialist who beat her in New Hampshire. Sanders has given her a real race and she’s hitting increasingly populist tones. It may not have been his goal, but Sanders has pulled Clinton to the left. The question now how far will they go. Debates are always an opportunity for candidates to test each other and that can sometimes mean saying or agreeing to positions that will give the other party fodder in the general election.

How far left will the Democratic Party go to settle the nomination and what does that mean for the general election?

4. Will PBS moderate differently than other TV networks have?

PBS is a non-commercial network that doesn’t live and die by ratings quite the way CNN or NBC does. The NewsHour, anchored by Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, is known for lengthy, thoughtful interviews and stories that dig deep. It seems quite likely that sensibility will change the types of questions that are asked. This could be good news for Democratic voters who haven’t yet seen the candidates get beyond sound bite answers in debates on issues like criminal justice reform and immigration.

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Talking Polticis With Late-Night Host Seth Meyers Who Happens To Know New Hampshire Well

David Greene talks to Seth Meyers, the host of “Late Night With Seth Meyers” on NBC, to talk about the presidential campaign, politics and the view from the late night stage.

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Pressure Mounts On 4 Remaining Wildlife Refuge Occupiers

Mary Louise Kelly talks to Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Amanda Peacher, who’s at the Malheur (mal-HYEUR) National Wildlife Refuge. Federal agents are closing in on four remaining anti-government militants still holed up in protest against federal management of western wild lands.

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Christie, Fiorina Drop Out; Rest Of The GOP Presidential Field Pushes On

With the Republican race still unsettled after the New Hampshire primary, the battle moves to South Carolina. The top candidates have hit the ground running there. On Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina withdrew from the race.

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The Precarious Existence Of Iran's Sunni Muslims

Sunni imam Aziz Babaei, in his prayer room in Tehran, has been telling other Iranian Sunnis to be careful. One radical act, he warns, could bring pain on the whole community.

Sunni imam Aziz Babaei, in his prayer room in Tehran, has been telling other Iranian Sunnis to be careful. One radical act, he warns, could bring pain on the whole community. Steve Inskeep/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Steve Inskeep/NPR

We’ve been talking with a Sunni Muslim who lives in Shiite-dominated Iran. He’s a member of one of the two great sects of Islam, which are increasingly seen in conflict. His story suggests just how perilous that conflict could be.

Last month, a crowd in Tehran attacked the embassy of Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia. They were protesting Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Saudi Shiite cleric who had criticized the Saudi government.

The Iranian torching of the Saudi embassy became another episode in the cold war between these two regional powers. It also underlined an awkward reality: Religious faiths don’t obey the borders on a map.

The executed cleric was one of several million Shiites who live in Saudi Arabia. Just across the Persian Gulf, several million Sunnis live in Iran.

They include the Sunni preacher who opened his door to us last week in western Tehran.

We had to ask around the neighborhood to find this place of worship. It has no dome. There’s no minaret. You might compare it to an American storefront church, except there’s no storefront.

You just have to know it.

Imam Aziz Babaei's Sunni mosque is located unobtrusively within this upscale Tehran neighborhood. It's one of the few Sunni mosques permitted in the city.

Imam Aziz Babaei’s Sunni mosque is located unobtrusively within this upscale Tehran neighborhood. It’s one of the few Sunni mosques permitted in the city. Steve Inskeep/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Steve Inskeep/NPR

Aziz Babaei, the imam, wearing a white turban and gray clerical robe, laughed when he was told that Americans had found him here.

Leaving our shoes at the door, we walked into a carpeted prayer room and settled into plastic chairs to talk.

He welcomed us to his mosque. That is, “We call it a mosque,” he said, though it doesn’t quite meet the formal definition. He said it’s a rental property, not permanent, as a mosque is supposed to be.

He signaled his wife to bring tea as we talked.

“What’s it like to be a Sunni among so many Shias?” I asked.

We live together nicely, he told me.

He takes exceptional care to make it so.

When Shiite mosques issue their five calls to prayer every day, they’re amplified through loudspeakers and echo down every street. But the Sunni man who sings the call to prayer for this mosque does it indoors, so few people hear.

This worship space is so obscure that some foreign news articles have stated as fact that there is no Sunni mosque in Tehran at all.

The imam says he came from western Iran, near the country’s border. It’s near the borders, drawn long ago, that the largest numbers of Sunnis can be found. Sunnis moved to the capital for work, and Aziz followed to look after their souls some 20 years ago.

His flock has grown. Some custodians of the upscale homes in this neighborhood are Sunni refugees from Afghanistan. They worship at Babaei’s hidden Sunni mosque.

Their imam insists his people are tolerated by the neighborhood. People don’t even complain, he says, when worshipers park their cars all over the neighborhood.

But tolerance only goes so far.

Babaei says the administration of Iran’s former president tried to shut down this worship space. Hassan Rouhani, the current president, is publicly more tolerant — but the State Department says Iranian Sunnis have been imprisoned for their beliefs. And news reports have said at least one Sunni place of worship in Tehran was shut down last year.

I asked him what he thinks when he hears news of an illegal Sunni worship space being demolished in Tehran.

“Demolish” is not the right word, Babaei insisted. He said improvised mosques are usually shut down just for violating building safety codes.

It goes without saying that a Sunni in Iran must speak with care.

Through our interpreter, Aziz Babaei said he condemns the burning of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. But he also condemns the act that prompted it, the Saudi execution of the Shiite cleric.

I asked if Iran’s security officials come in and check his mosque from time to time.

“Yes,” he said. Sometimes intelligence agents come here openly to talk. Sometimes they’re invisible, joining the hundreds of worshipers prostrate on the floor.

The imam said he’s been telling all Sunnis to be careful. One radical act could bring pain on the whole community.

The visiting security agents gave him a crucial insight: They said Iran’s Sunnis will be safe so long as the Islamic Republic does not view them as a threat.

At least in that respect, the security men added, Sunnis are no different than any Shiite.

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Like Millennials, More Older Americans Steering Away From Driving

A growing number of Americans are driving less and getting rid of their cars.

The trend that used to be more prominent among younger adults — millennials — is now gaining traction in middle-aged adults as well, to the point where fewer of them are even bothering to get or renew their driver’s licenses.

“Honestly, at this point, it just doesn’t really seem worth it,” says 25-year-old Peter Rebecca, who doesn’t own a car or have a driver’s license. “I mean, I live in Chicago, there’s really good access to, you know, public transits for pretty cheap.”

The student at Harold Washington College downtown lives just a couple of blocks from a rail stop on the Northwest side. In the warmer months, Rebecca says he uses a bike.

“I’ve got a bunch of grocery stores in walking distance and even then I can use the bus if I have to get further,” he says.

Rebecca is hardly alone, especially among young adults in urban areas.

“Over the past several decades, particularly for the youngest age groups, there’s been a pretty large decrease in the number of people who have been getting driver’s licenses,” says Brandon Schoettle, a researcher at the University of Michigan.

He led a new study published by University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute that studied the proportion of people with driver’s licenses over the years.

According to the study, only 69 percent of 19-year-olds have a driver’s license in 2014, compared to almost 90 percent in 1983. The percentage of 20-somethings with driver’s licenses has also fallen by 13 percent over the last three decades, and fewer Americans in their 30s and 40s now have driver’s licenses.

Susan Schell might soon be one of them. The manager of a Starbucks on Chicago’s northwest side says her driver’s license is up for renewal this month, yet she doesn’t own a car.

“I used to. I got rid of it just because it’s too much of a pain in the butt to have in Chicago and we kept getting tickets and I just didn’t want to deal with it,” Schell says.

In addition to living in a city that is relentless in doling out parking tickets, Schell says there’s the cost of insurance, gas, and maintenance on top of the cost of the car itself. Her husband recently let his driver’s license expire because they take public transit to work, and they have other options for shopping.

“We use, services like such as Instacart a lot,” she says. “…If we’ve done like a big trip at Target or something, we just call an Uber. There’s so many options when you live in a city.”

Schoettle says now this trend is not just limited to teenagers and those in their 20s.

“For some of the oldest age groups, which had seen relatively large increases in licensing over the past few decades, finally seemed to have peaked and have started to show some small decreases in licensing,” he says. “And so for the first time in the series of reports that we’ve done, we’ve kind of seen a decrease in the percentage of people with a license across all age groups.”

Forty-eight-year-old Raul Chavez hasn’t renewed his driver’s license since it expired more than a year ago — and he keeps his car parked.

“It’s quite a bit expensive because you have to have insurance,” he says. “The latest two years I used public transportation and I really enjoy it because it’s cheap and it’s reliable everywhere you’re gonna go.”

Schoettle says that’s one of the main reasons more Americans of all ages are going without driver’s licenses.

“There’s been a shift publicly for people to move to things like public transportation that just wasn’t there back in the 80s and 90s, partly because there’s sometimes better public transportation in certain areas than there was few decades ago and a little more concern about the environment,” he says.

Schoettle says he’ll be watching to see if cheaper gas might reverse the trend.

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